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Analytical Validation and Impact Assessment of On-Site Evidence Screening via Ambient Sampling, Portable Mass Spectrometry

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2018
13 pages
The findings and methodology are presented for a research project that assessed the feasibility, analytical performance, anticipated legality of field usage, and the economics of broad implementation of portable mass spectrometry (MS) systems that feature simplified sample-handling methods.

The portable MS system used for this research was the FLIR Systems A1-MS 1.2 cylindrical ion trap mass spectrometer. It offers both ruggedness for field conditions and tandem MS analysis for increased selectivity of chemical identification. In previous research, this system was found to be applicable to a myriad of forensic chemicals and evidence types, with particular proficiency in illicit drug identification. In addition, the AI-MS 1.2 allows for "red light/green light" operation, which alleviates the need for user-based data analysis by using automated chemical identification based on an on-board spectral database. This system can also be coupled with ambient ionization methods, which enables the analysis of forensic evidence in its native state, with little to no preparation. Previous research showed that paper spray ionization (PSI) has high proficiency for common and emerging types of drug evidence. In an effort to both characterize the portable MS methodology and facilitate future court admissibility of evidence, an extensive analytical validation was undertaken, following recommended guidelines set by the Scientific Working Group for the Analysis of Seized Drugs. The study concludes that the flexibility to screen and identify forensic analyses present in various states and matrices on-site via PSI has the potential to provide capabilities that no other fieldable technology currently available offers. It is essential that forensic practitioners and law enforcement agencies are provided with the suitable, yet fiscally responsible, equipment to perform their duties. Such screening of evidence in the field can provide higher throughput analytical techniques or a reduction of the influx of evidence to forensic laboratories. 2 tables and 1 figure

Date Published: July 1, 2018